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My holiday gift to you – sanity.

My holiday gift to you – sanity.

Here is a collection of things to make your life easier. I have used all the indicated ones and they are officially sanctioned by various government or credit agencies (i.e. not scams like most of them) and do work – I’ve used all but one.

Stop all mailed credit card offers:
This one was a godsend. I would get 3-5 credit card offers a WEEK. Each one is a time bomb because it only takes one being picked up and filled out by a stranger to enter the wonderful world of identity theft. If you fill out the online version, you get no offers for 5 years. The service is free and seems to be run by a partnership of credit card companies. Fill out the paper one, mail it in, and they stop forever. I filled it out a year ago and they’ve all stopped. There is a stipulation for offers you request or folks you have recently done business with, but my rate has dropped to 0-2 a month.
https://www.optoutprescreen.com

National Do Not Call registry:
Kills all those telemarketers up front. This is one the government runs and keeps annoying calls from happening during dinner. Yes, this does work – I’ve had it for over a year. If you do happen to get a call (I have not) – find out who it is calling and file a complaint for a multi-thousand dollar per-violation fine to be slapped on them.
https://www.donotcall.gov/

The nuclear approach – freeze it all:
As of October 1, 2007, all Oregonians will be able to place a security freeze on their credit file maintained by a credit reporting agency such as Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Once activated, anyone who has fraudulently obtained your personal identifying information would not be able to open new accounts or borrow money – in fact – nobody can open anything (including you) unless the freeze is lifted. The freeze also prevents lenders and others from gaining access to your credit report for review. Which means companies cannot even look at your credit to profile or screen you.

This is stronger than a credit alert. Credit alerts are what people usually put on their credit reports if they are victims of identity theft. But credit alerts still allow companies to open lines if they have done ‘due diligence’ to make sure it’s really you. The steps most companies use are up to them. And most are just a simple phone call to the number on the application – which is nearly useless if the application is fraudulent. A freeze prevents ANY activity unless you file to unfreeze – a process that requires $10 and a mailed in form.

I know of one guy doing this now, and he says it seems to work great. I’m still looking for information about whether this leaves any blemish/ding on your credit rating, but so far it looks ok in my initial reads.
http://www.dfcs.oregon.gov/identity_theft/security_freeze.html

Not so bad…

Not so bad…

Today of all things, it is sunny, 56 degrees, and warm.  A beautiful day really – which is so different than yesterday. Most folks got out unscathed here at work save some falling limbs, cleaning up the yard from blown around debris, fixing an item or two blown down and shingles blown loose. The coast got the worst of it. But we’re looking at several good days of nice weather, and cleanup is already going faster because of that.

I-5 is still closed but the tree cutting along the major roadways is going well. As long as you aren’t trying to get to/from the coast you should do well.  The flooding will take longer to clean up, and it’s definitely not so pretty. Vernonia is just 10 miles from here and it’s swamped. A lot of the little streams are flooded, and have taken over some of the smaller towns in OR and WA. I recommend going to Katu news and checking out the video/picture clips for first-hand looks.

It’s weird to see places you just drove without a problem days before covered in water…

100 mph winds at the coast

100 mph winds at the coast

Over the last few days, Oregon has been getting pounded by a huge storm. That’s something of an understatement actually.

All the major interstates in and around Portland were closed at some point today, and some are still closed. Every single route out to the Oregon coast is closed due to flooding, mudslides, wind damaged trees falling across the roads, etc. As I write this, there isn’t a way out to the coast for hundreds of miles in either direction north or south. Everyone out at the coast was basically trapped without power. Could be days before it gets sorted out. Portland saw street flooding where sewers backed up, but things have been surprisingly ok (but sure windy and wet).

Here’s a few interesting tidbits:

  • Train service north of Portland was shut down due to a landslide – there is no train route from CA to Canada until it’s cleared.
  • I-5, the interstate between Seattle and Portland, may be closed for days due to the interstate being flooded
  • The world’s largest Sitka spruce bit the big one today – after surviving over 700 years of storms
  • Ocean buoys have been breaking from their mourings in 40 foot swells. Now as seawater gets to their batteries they fill with hydrogen gas and pose an explosion hazard
  • Winds were clocked at over 100 mph at the coast, inland they’re much less – but it’s blowing all day.
  • Road closures all over the place as streets and highways get flooded over, cleared, then flood somewhere else…
  • We got about 4-5 inches of rain today in Portland, they got 10-15 in the cascade mountains between us and the coast

Overall, however, things are not doing bad here in Portland. We’re all still going to work and getting stuff done. Most things are open and we’ve had power all day. Should be an interesting week…

Auditory illusions

Auditory illusions

This is amazing – simply amazing. You need to use headphones for it to work best, but it’s unbelievable how realistic it is. I had a nice set of headphones and it’s so convincing that I found myself totally convinced of the sounds around me – and kept subconsciously looking around for the guys talking. 🙂

Auditory illusions

Try the virtual haircut for a good sample.

Framed

Framed

I just got my photo of the Japanese Gardens printed and framed. I went and got a 24×20 print made on photo paper by a local high-quality printer who did a good job with the proofs and tweaking it for large prints. I then went over to a frame-it-yourself joint and got it put on foam-core, double-matted, and then framed. All said and done it was about $175 (framing being the majority of the cost), but it came out great.

Here’s a shot of it hanging on my wall. And least you think it’s not too big, I was using my wide-angle lens and that’s a Dell 2407 24″ screen to the side:

They think I can probably go as big as 30×24 without digital artifacts – which is huge.

If you think you might like a print (frame/unframed) let me know as now that I have the digital matte file saved with them, they can do further 24×20 (not exact dimensions) prints for a reasonable amount. Going up to 30×24 pushes it quickly to about $100/print (no frame) so just email me if you’re thinking about it, but the 24×20’s are very reasonable. Batch jobs are cheaper – so just email and if a group wants to go for prints, I’ll see what the rates are.

This one came out so good that I’m probably going to do a couple of my other photos.

Great day for hard drives

Great day for hard drives

Finally.

After years of buying hard drives that say 400gb, but format out to 372.529gb, Seagate lost a class-action suit that accused hard drive manufacturers of using misleading statements about the capacity of their hard drives.  Hard drives have traditionally used 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) bytes for 1 gigabyte, but everyone else uses 1,073,741,824 bytes = 1 gigabyte.  The difference comes from using the next power of 2 (2^30 = 1 gigabyte) vs actual byte count (1 billion bytes = 1 gigabyte).  All other computer components (i.e. memory) use the power of 2 notation; looks like HD manufacturers will need to start doing that now too.

But the good part is that you can cash in (or at least help the lawyers cash in).  Go to this online form and fill it out if you’ve bought a hard drive before January 1, 2006.

DJ Justice Hit Portland – and I was there

DJ Justice Hit Portland – and I was there

About 2-3 weeks ago, I went to the sold-out DJ Justice concert on a Thursday night. A friend tipped me off on the tickets going on sale and I got like the 125th ticket for $15 (he actually got ticket #1) – which then apparently sold out in record time. The set got started about 11pm and I just about left about 1:30am when they were finishing up. Then, off to work the next day.  Thankfully I’d gone home to bed right after work so it wasn’t too bad.

It was a good concert, but those midnight weekday midnights are hard to do.  Probably why this was the first one I’d been to in almost a year. Still, they are famous for the song D.A.N.C.E. Turns out there were a few folks there with video/sound going. Here’s two clips from the actual event:

DJ Justice does the song DANCE @ holocene Portland
http://youtube.com/watch?v=bido5jzhUS0

DJ Justice @ holocene (as shot by my buddy on his little Canon camera.  He didn’t know he was taking video while dancing – so just listen, don’t watch and it wasn’t him trying to be artistic)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=TvQLqPAPbDU
(hehe, I forgot they’d used the bit from Metallica at the end)

Nissan hits 190,000

Nissan hits 190,000

Well, my trusty old ’93 Nissan just rolled over 190,000 miles yesterday on my way to work. Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention and missed seeing all those delicious 9’s roll over to the satisfying 0’s – but it’s a fun milestone anyway. There’s a big part of me that wants to get this car to 200k, which might happen next year or so if I do a bit more driving than usual.

I must admit that I’ve been ‘seeing other people’ and test driving a lot of different cars (Audi, Lexus, Nissan, BMW, Toyota’s, Subaru, etc) . Problem is that none of them have really taken my fancy yet; and the idea of plunking down 10-30k on a car isn’t really high on my list of things to do. So, I keep driving the Nissan. That and having no car payment for the last 7 years has been sickeningly sweet.